McDowell confirms he will defend Saudi title in February

Graeme McDowell poses with the trophy during Day 4 of the Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Defending champion Graeme McDowell will join World Number One Dustin Johnson and 2020 US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau in the third edition of the Saudi International from February 4 – 7, 2021.

Northern Ireland’s defending champ McDowell, winner of the 2010 US Open, was a hugely popular winner last year as a 12 under par total saw him add an 11th European Tour title to his resume, thwarting Johnson’s title defence.

“From the high of winning the 2020 Saudi International in February against such an amazing field we very quickly had to contend with all that COVID-19 has thrown at us since so I think I was lucky to be able to hold onto that awesome winning feeling through the darker parts of lockdown,” said McDowell.

“I don’t think I have ever seen a tournament establish itself so quickly on the player’s schedules as the Saudi International has. The Royal Greens Golf & Country Club is a great Championship course and huge credit to the Saudi Golf Federation for gathering such a world class field as they look to inspire a new generation of golfers in the Kingdom.”

World Number One, Johnson, who followed up his 2019 victory by finishing second behind McDowell earlier this year, said: “I am really looking forward to returning to Saudi Arabia for a third consecutive year. I’ve really enjoyed both of my visits and love the golf course, as evidenced by my win and runner-up finish. The scuba diving experiences I’ve had in the Red Sea have also been amazing!”

With 23 PGA Tour titles to his name, Johnson also feels he has a part to play in continuing the growth of the game by bringing it to new markets such as the Kingdom explaining:

“It’s been pretty neat to witness the growth of golf in the Kingdom and it’s definitely one of the reasons I like to play in Saudi Arabia. Golf has been such an important part of my life, so it’s nice to get the chance to play a part in introducing it to a new audience. In just the past two years you can see the interest level rising in Saudi, especially amongst the juniors.”

Johnson and McDowell, the first two winners of the Saudi International, will be joined at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club by DeChambeau, who claimed his first Major in style at Winged Foot last month, finishing a resounding six shots clear of the field.

A seven-time winner on the PGA Tour, DeChambeau returns to Saudi Arabia having played in the inaugural tournament in 2019.

DeChambeau said: “I have undergone a lot of changes since I last visited the Kingdom as I work to fulfil my golf potential and I think you can say the same about golf in Saudi as it continues to develop as Golf Saudi endeavour to grow the game. I finished a credible T6 in 2019 and I obviously hope to finish a little better this year but I am also really interested to see what has changed and how golf has grown since my last visit.”

Majed Al Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi, said: “We are delighted that Saudi Arabia is open and able to host sporting events of such stature and announcing these three international golf stars is proof of that. We are very proud of the field we are assembling to play in the Saudi International powered by Softbank Investment Advisers and are very happy to have the support of so many of the world’s best golfers as it shows us that we are moving our event in the right direction. We have many more star names to announce in the coming weeks but we are absolutely delighted to start with these three great champions and are proud to host the third edition of this important event in Saudi Arabia as we work to develop golf in the region.”

The men’s event will be Saudi Arabia’s third professional golf tournament in the space of three months. The Kingdom is due to host two back-to-back debut tournaments next month: the $1million Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF taking place 12th-15th November, and the $500,000 Saudi Ladies Team International, running 17th-19th November.

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